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Philip Glass: Cello Concerto No. 2 "Naqoyqatsi": Life as War; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Cincinnati SO, Dennis Russell Davies

Album Summary

>Glass, Philip : Concerto for Cello no 2 ("Naqoyqatsi")
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

In 2001, Philip Glass composed the music for the film Naqoyqatsi: Life as War. It was the last film in a trilogy by director Godfrey Reggio that featured only images and music. When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra invited Glass to be a creative director for its Boundless Series during the 2011-12 season, Glass thought of his cello concerto and its possible life beyond film. The CSO commissioned the Cello Concerto No.2 - Naqoyqatsi and gave the composer the opportunity to have it reborn as a proper concerto. The resulting recording is drawn from the live performances. This dynamic seven-movement work is conducted here by long-time Glass champion Dennis Russell Davies with soloist Matt Haimovitz.

WQXR (New York)
This dark score gives us Glass's late style at its best. Weird melodic modes kink around sharp harmonic corners; the solo cello gets moments of unsettling loveliness and spectacular virtuosity.

American Record Guide, July/August 2013
Glass's second cello concerto, subtitled Naqoyqatsi, reworks music from the final film in Godfrey Reggio's Qatsi trilogy. Glass's orchestration is superb. Haimovitz plays better. The concert recording sounds marvelous - much more satisfying.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Cincinnati's Music Hall (03/30/2012-03/31/2012).

As the subtitle indicates, the music in the Cello Concerto No. 2 ("Naqoyqatsi") of Philip Glass is not new but is drawn from the score to the film of that title composed by Glass in 2002. Though the term is drawn from Hopi cosmology, the film used a good deal of computer-assisted imagery to address the theme of the relationship between technology and the natural world. Glass' music, as usual, is entirely performed on conventional orchestral instruments. The original score had a prominent cello part, performed on the soundtrack recording by Yo-Yo Ma, and Glass has here boiled the original score, with perhaps a dozen cuts, down to seven movements that seem to make a vaguely linear sequence. The music is a good example of Glass' mature film scores, which may endure as his most lasting works; it combines the composer's characteristic minimal textures with more elaborate cello lines, some involving lightly extended techniques, that seem to evoke the metaphysical concept under examination ("Massman," "Intensive Time," "Point Blank," etc.). Although there's nothing new here, the version makes an attractively sized package of Glass, and listeners without access to the film may well prefer it as more coherent in this form. The realization is very strong. Cellist Matt Haimovitz, who has specialized in experimental mixtures of concert and vernacular traditions, acquits himself in such a way that no one will be thinking about Yo-Yo Ma; Glass' solo parts, although not virtuosic in a fancy way, aren't easy, for they require the composer's ensemble concepts to be sustained over long periods. Haimovitz soars. Another attraction is the superlative live recording in Cincinnati's venerable Music Hall; it would be hard to think of a venue that would be better in providing the resonant yet clean acoustic Glass' music demands. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies, who has conducted a lot of Glass in his time, catches the grander moments of the score without giving them the pounding quality they take in inferior Glass performances.


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Works Details

>Glass, Philip : Concerto for Cello no 2 ("Naqoyqatsi")
  • Performer: Matt Haimovitz (Cello)
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 38 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 2002-2012